Interlude – Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten)

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    Alexandra Annandale on #188211

    If one had to identify the key of the Interlude for an examination, what would it be? It has seven flats, but it is neither in C-Flat Major, nor in a-flat minor. There is an F-natural in the middle, but I don’t see it going to G-flat Major, nor eb minor either. I guess it is one of those church-type (Gregorian?) modes, but I have no idea which one? So is there a key for that modulation too? Can anybody help? Please. If so, please advise how it was identified.

    carl-swanson on #188215

    The right hand is playing the chant that opens the whole thing. So it must be the same mode as that.

    brian-noel on #188219

    The entire movement is in Cb Major. Just because it briefly modulates to Gb Major when the F natural comes in to play doesn’t change the overall key of the piece. The Handel Concerto is in “Bb Major”, and while it goes in and out of a number of related keys, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a Bb Major concerto, just like Mozart Symphonies, etc… are named after the key around which they are centered. There’s nothing modal about this movement, other than the chant that it’s based upon. It’s just Cb Major.

    Alison on #188234

    It’s a good question which I would examine again, as I suspect it might open in Dorian or Aeolian mode. I have often wondered why it sounds like it does.

    Gretchen Cover on #188236

    For a detailed discussion of Ceremony of Carols and the key it is written, go to In the search box type in Ceremony of Carols.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #188973

    I say it is in A-flat Aeolian mode, off the top of my head. It definitely starts out in a minor mode.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #189365 is the exact link for the reference to A Ceremony of Carols.

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